Will Wearing Running Shoes While Not Running Ruin Them?

Sporty woman tying her shoelaces close up
A woman is tying her sneakers. (Image: Satyrenko/iStock/Getty Images)

One of the benefits of running is its minimal equipment requirements; a good pair of shoes, some support and you're off for a good workout. But the shoes are a critical piece of equipment. They're costly and improper shoes contribute to injury. Avoid wearing your running shoes while not running. Running shoes break down over time and wear patterns develop that require them to be replaced.

Wear Patterns

Over time, wear patterns develop on the bottoms of your running shoes based on your gait cycle and pronation type. For instance, a heel-striking over-pronator, who strikes with the outside of their heel and then rolls their ankle inward as they push off, will notice that the outer corner of the tread on each heel wears down first. Since walking and running are biomechanically different, the wear patterns you develop for each will be different. If you're wearing the same shoes for both, walking can create a wear pattern that causes or exacerbates gait problems.

Shoe Breakdown

The pounding, high-impact nature of running prescribes that running shoes take a beating. The heavier you are, or the more severe your heel strike or pronation issues, the more quickly your shoes will break down. The difficult part about running shoe breakdown is that it's not always easy to tell when a shoe is "dead." Even though it isn't as tough on the shoes, walking around in your running shoes will cause them to break down more quickly, shortening their life. If you wear running shoes for day-to-day activities, it can also be harder to feel when a shoe has begun to break down and is nearing replacement time.

The Cost Factor

Cost is also be a significant factor when determining whether it's a good idea to wear running shoes when you aren't specifically training. A quality pair of running shoes can be expensive. If you're able to get 300 miles out of an average shoe, and you run 30 miles a week, you'll find yourself dropping cash on new running shoes every two to three months. Add the daily wear and tear of walking around in them, and you'll break them down even more quickly and have to replace more frequently. If cost is a factor, keep a separate, inexpensive pair of sneakers to wear for your daily activities.

When To Replace

Gague when to replace your shoes, especially if you regularly run and then head out on errands wearing the same shoes. The lifespan of a shoe depends on a few variables, including the type of shoe, runner's weight, running style and the surfaces a runner trains on, says Gavin Thomas, spokesperson for Nike. Most runners can get 300 to 500 miles out of a pair of shoes, but as you become more intuitive, you'll begin to feel when your shoes are losing their bounce. The key is to replace your shoes before their material breakdown leads to injury. If you notice your legs feeling more fatigued or heavy during runs, or your shoes seem less "springy," it's probably about time to hang them up.

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